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Bahrain - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 21 Apr 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 92

Lead Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

Contributing Analyst: Kylie Wansink

Bahrain develops robust telecoms infrastructure for the future

The telecommunications sector in Bahrain is robust and progressive and it contributes about 4% a year to the Kingdom’s GDP. Bahrain is striving to drive further growth in the telecoms sector in 2020 by ensuring it is competitive and adaptable to market dynamics. It has the added pressure of coping with the impact from the global Covid-19 outbreak and ensuring provision of adequate Internet services and applications to home-based citizens.

The major telecoms operators include Batelco, STC Bahrain and Zain Bahrain. The industry is regulated by Telecommunications Regulator (TRA) which has been working hard to resolve any regulatory or spectrum hurdles in readiness for 5G. This government support, along with proactive operators, resulted in Batelco launching the first commercial 5G network in Bahrain in mid-2019.

Batelco also undertook a significant operational restructure in 2019 and launched Bahrain’s National Broadband Network operated by BNET. Bahrain’s telecommunications industry is guided by its Fourth National Telecommunications Plan which focuses on fibre-optic infrastructure deployment and establishing affordable prices for high-speed access.

Overall, the mobile broadband sector is poised for growth with 4G networks in place and a high mobile subscriber penetration paving the way for adoption.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains all around the world. During this time, the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device and ICT equipment production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to source necessary equipment or manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may also be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services is likely to be impacted by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. In contrast, demand for Internet services will rise with citizens at home using it for work, education, socialising, and entertainment.

It is largely unknown what the long-term impacts will be as the crisis develops. However, though challenging to predict and interpret, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts and text contained in this report.

In addition, the report covers the responses of the telecom operators, as well as government. This might be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

This BuddeComm report provides statistics and analysis on the key sectors of Bahrain’s telecom market, presenting an overview of the regulatory environment, the fixed network operators and services, telecom infrastructure, mobile operators, and mobile infrastructure, supported by statistics. The report includes a range of subscriber forecasts through to 2024.

Key developments:

  • There is evidence that fixed-broadband penetration is rising in Bahrain.
  • In mid-2019 the TRA renewed the mobile frequency licences held by Batelco and Zain for another ten-year period.
  • Zain Bahrain’s data revenues have been steadily increasing since at least 2015.
  • The TRA was offering more mobile spectrum for tender in mid-2019.
  • Batelco’s split into two divisions was formally finalised in May 2019.

Companies covered in this report include:

Batelco, STC Bahrain, Zain Bahrain, Kalaam Telecom.

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Paul, May I congratulate you on a very successful and enjoyable afternoon with the Minister. In providing the roundtable discussions between government and industry, it highlighted the strong interest by stakeholders in Broadband and its implementation but it also presented us with other issues and opportunities that we need to address.

Dominic Schipano, CITT

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